Celebrating 35 Years of the National Wetlands Awards

Monday, May 6, 2024

Wetlands are critical ecosystems that provide important benefits for people and wildlife. They provide flood protection, resilient infrastructure, carbon storage, increased water quality, and are integral to the culture and economy of local communities. The urgency of preserving these important resources is only heightened by the reality of climate change.


The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Sackett v. EPA, which sharply limited the federal Clean Water Act’s protection for the nation’s waters, has made wetland protection more critical than ever before. EPA has estimated that 60% of wetlands will no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act. The effects of this decision and the Environmental Law Institute’s work on the topic are discussed in What Comes Next for Clean Water? Six Consequences of Sackett v. EPA.

Over five decades, the Environmental Law Institute has worked with partners to identify and implement key legal and policy approaches to enable wetlands conservation. Learn more about our work on our wetlands homepage. One part of this work has been to identify and amplify innovative and successful approaches to wetlands conservation. Heroes at the community, local, and state levels have charted a path to solutions, and we have worked to amplify their voices, share information, and foster a wetlands community.

Since 1989, ELI has emphasized the importance of wetlands through our National Wetlands Awards program. The program’s core mission is to call attention to the value of wetlands and celebrate the important work being done by individuals to protect these vital resources. Over the years, we have given awards to 225 individuals, communities, and agencies.


This year marks the 35th Anniversary of the National Wetlands Awards! In lieu of a ceremony, we are celebrating this milestone by highlighting the amazing work of our past awardees. During the month of May (American Wetlands Month), we will be featuring updates from past awardees on our website, Vibrant Environment blog, the People Places Planet podcast, and social media platforms.  

Please keep an eye on our National Wetlands Awards homepage for regular updates and join the National Wetlands Awards Network on LinkedIn to receive updates about ELI’s wetlands work and resources, share about your own wetlands projects, and connect with others in the wetlands community!

By honoring ongoing work in wetlands, we are supporting the effort to preserve, restore, and protect them—for current and future generations.